One Big Sky backers disappointed after Billings City Council nixes agreement with developer

Posted at 2:18 PM, Feb 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-27 17:46:35-05

BILLINGS – Supporters of the One Big Sky District said Tuesday they were disappointed that the Billings City Council declined to renew an agreement with Landmark Development.

“It makes that partnership with Landmark very difficult going forward. It sends mixed messages,” said Steve Arveschoug, director of Big Sky Economic Development. “I mean, there are some realities there that we are going to have to work with and manage through. But the fundamental vision, the plan that adopted and the economic development tool that we are working on with (state Sen. Roger Webb)- that is still priority number one right now.”

Arveschoug is referring to a bill proposed in the Montana Legislature aimed at supporting the project.

On Monday, the Council made a surprise 5-5 vote to decline to renew the agreement with Landmark, the company behind the One Big Sky plan. It was a separate agreement for the city to reimburse Landmark for some costs over the last two years if they are not involved in this project, even if the project goes forward with a different developer.

The vote came two weeks after the council had approved Landmark’s One Big Sky Development Plan, 7-3.

“The Council even last night was supporting the plan and the idea and legislation in Helena,” Mayor Bill Cole said Tuesday. “The vote itself was a disappointment because we don’t get people who want to invest more than $300 million in our community every day, and last night we said no thank you. At least not on those terms.”

Reporting by Zoe Zandora for MTN News